Sweden’s reputation for forward-thinking is continuing to grow. Ikea, the worldwide Swedish furniture giant, is planning to use biodegradable packaging made from mushrooms, which will replace polystyrene and can decompose in a garden within a few weeks. This new “fungi packaging” is part of Ikea’s efforts to reduce waste and promote recycling.
Mushroom Packaging was developed by Ecovative Design, by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste like corn stalks or husks. In the course of a few days, fungus fibers bind the waste together, creating a solid shape which then dries, stopping it from growing any further. Compared with polystyrene, which takes thousands of years to decompose, mycelium will biodegrade within just a few weeks.
Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the UK, said, “The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging.”
And the new Mushroom Packaging isn’t Ikea’s first sustainable innovation, either. It has already launched a vegetarian alternative to its famous in-store meatballs, due to concerns surrounding greenhouse gas emissions from raising animals for beef and pork.
“Ikea wants to have a positive impact on people and planet,” said an Ikea spokesperson, “which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled.”